Former finance minister to lead country which will face huge internal and external challenges as head of state
Olaf Scholz appointed as Germany’s new chancellor, replacing Angela Merkel after 16 years
Olaf Scholz, a fellow social democrat and former finance minister, has been appointed as Germany’s new chancellor, following Angela Merkel’s resounding election victory.
Scholz is expected to be sworn in later on Friday, assuming responsibility for leading Europe’s biggest economy in a time of uncertainty due to Britain’s Brexit vote, a fresh Italian crisis and a bitterly divisive US president.
The Social Democrats won 24.6% of the vote in the election on 24 September, compared with 48.6% for Merkel’s Christian Democrats, taking them into a minority government.
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“It’s a great day for me,” Scholz told reporters, saying: “I think we’ll quickly be able to start working in good sense and good haste.”
The 63-year-old was a rising star in the SPD when the Christian Democrats and the liberal Free Democrats formed a grand coalition from 2005-09 and was health minister in the so-called “grand coalition” from 2010-16.
He lost to Merkel in a party leadership election in 2016 and has to choose between two big demands: to appoint Hermann Groehe as finance minister and to be a deputy chancellor in a coalition government.
Scholz’s strongest support came from trade unions, students and the left.